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The main terrorist threat in Nigeria comes from Islamist extremist groups Ansaru and Boko Haram. Ansaru is also known as Jama'atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis-Sudan, Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan, Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa, JAMBS, and Jama'atu Ansaril Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan. Since its inception, Ansaru has committed multiple attacks of violence against civilians and Nigerian government officials and is responsible for the deaths of countless civilians and Nigerian security personnel. Ansaru also has links to AQIM.

Ansaru, a militant Islamist group, was formed in January 2012. Its full Arabic name, Jama'atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan, means: "Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa". The name indicates that it has a wider regional agenda, with the UK listing Ansaru as a "terrorist group" linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Ansaru is led by the little-known Abu Ussamata al-Ansary, while others state it is led by Khalid al-Barnawi. Ansaru likely represented the revival of Nigerian Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) militants in Kano.

On January 26, 2012, Ansaru released flyers in Kano announcing its public formation and saying it was a humane alternative to Boko Haram that would only target the Nigerian government and Christians in self-defense. Subsequent Arabic-language Ansaru videos in June 2012 dubbed in Hausa and English and statements to Kaduna-based Desert Herald showed Ansaru employed a pan-West African narrative. Ansaru also displayed the setting sun logo of AQIMs predecessor before 2007, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).

Ansarus charter stated that an amir heads Ansarus hierarchy, but acts in accordance with a shura. Major decisions, such as the opening of a new battlefront, negotiations with the government, or the establishment of international relationships must be taken in concert with the shura, whose ruling is binding on the amir.

Ansaru claims it fights to restore the lost dignity of the Sokoto Caliphate, which was founded in 1804 by the Fulani shaykh Usman dan Fodio in northern Cameroon, northern Nigeria, and southern Niger, and lasted until the United Kingdom and France colonized the region and introduced Western education and Christianity in the 19th century.

To some, Ansaru is seen as complimenting the 'struggle' by the Boko Haram sect, but to many it is an indication that all is not well with the leadership of the Boko Haram sect, and that there has been conflict about its ideology and its understanding of Islam.

Ansaru has denounced Boko Haram's style of operation as "inhuman to the Muslim ummah [nation]", an apparent reference to killing of innocent Nigerians - Christian and Muslim - through bombings and assassinations. "Islam forbids killing of innocent people, including non-Muslims. This is our belief and we stand for it," al-Ansary said in a video released in 2014.

Ansaru has carried out a number of kidnap attacks in Nigeria. In May 2011 a British national and an Italian national were kidnapped together in Kebbi State. Both hostages were killed in Sokoto on 8 March 2012. Ansaru are believed to have been responsible for their deaths. In January 2012 a German national was kidnapped in Kano and killed in the city on 31 May 2012. In December 2012 a French national was kidnapped in Katsina State, reportedly from a residential compound; Ansaru claimed responsibility for the attack: he subsequently escaped on 17 November 2013. A British construction worker was kidnapped and murdered along with 6 colleagues in Bauchi State; Ansaru claimed responsibility on 16 February 2013.

On 13 November 2013 the US Department of State announced the designation of Boko Haram and Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, and as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224. These designations will assist U.S. and other law enforcement partners in efforts to investigate and prosecute terrorist suspects associated with Boko Haram and Ansaru.

The consequences of the these FTO and E.O. 13224 designations include a prohibition against knowingly providing, or attempting or conspiring to provide, material support or resources to, or engaging in transactions with, Boko Haram and Ansaru, and the freezing of all property and interests in property of the organizations that are in the United States, or come within the United States or the control of U.S. persons. The Department of State took these actions in consultation with the Departments of Justice and Treasury.

Ansaru in 2013 kidnapped and executed seven international construction workers. Ansarus attacks have focused on Nigerian military and Western targets. In November 2012, Ansaru raided a police station in Abuja, killing Nigerian police officers and freeing detained terrorists from prison. Also in January 2013, Ansaru attacked Nigerian security services when its members ambushed a convoy of Nigerian peacekeepers. Ansaru has also conducted several kidnappings of foreigners living or working in Nigeria.

Ansaru has committed multiple attacks of violence against civilians and Nigerian government officials and is responsible for the deaths of countless civilians and Nigerian security personnel.

Ansaru claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on Nigerian troops heading to Mali on 25 January 2013, according to the local Desert Herald, which often publishes their claims. Suspected Islamist gunmen opened fire on a convoy of troops leaving northern Nigeria en route to deployment with West African forces in Mali, killing two officers and wounding eight others, in Kogi state, central Nigeria. The statement in the online newspaper said the attack was part of a mission to stop Nigerian troops joining Western powers in their "aim to demolish the Islamic empire of Mali."

The Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, on 09 August 2015 warned that there was a syndicate in Nigeria that recruited young Nigerians for the terrorist group, Islamic State of Iraq, Syria, ISIS. According to NIS, the association process travelling documents and visas for those it had recruited for ISIS, as ISISs strategy was promising youth a way out of the unemployment in the country.

Around 24,000 Nigerian nationals were prevented from leaving the country on suspicion of supporting terrorism. Nigeria's immigration agency says it blocked 24,000 citizens from leaving the country due to suspicion they may become involved in terrorism or prostitution. The holds occurred during the 15 months leading up to March 2015. The agency said several Nigerians attempting to travel abroad were suspected of trying to join militant groups such as the Islamic State.

"The terrorist group has a syndicate that arranges travel documents, visas, ticket and money for their recruits," the BBC quoted the agency as saying in a statement, adding that Nigeria was a "catchment area for recruiters because of the high number of jobless people" in the country. The agency noted other Nigerians were merely trying to escape their country, which suffers high levels of poverty and is embroiled in an insurgency with terrorist group Boko Haram.

The Nigeria Immigration Service has linked the recruitment of young Nigerians into the terrorist organization, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to the activities of a syndicate. The service stated that the syndicate was responsible for processing travelling documents and visas for those it had recruited for ISIS, noting that Nigeria is an easy recruitment ground for the terrorist group as a result of the high number of jobless youths in the country.

NIS Public Relations Officer, Emeka Obua, said Nigeria is a catchment area for recruiters because of the high number of jobless people in the country. The terrorist group has a syndicate that arrange travel documents, visas, ticket and money for their recruits. To counter this, the NIS now engages in intense profiling of travelers. We have always had problems of Nigerians going abroad for greener pasture. We look at the age of the intending traveler and the person he is travelling with, put them by the side and profile them thoroughly. What are their intentions for going abroad? Where are they going?

The Department of State Servies (DSS) on 10 February 2016 announced that it carried out series of tactical operations, involving raids and enforcement actions against identified criminal and extremist kingpins and syndicates across the country.

It disclosed that, on 17th January, 2016, one Abdussalam Enesi YUNUSA, a recruiter for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was arrested in Kano. His arrest was sequel to available intelligence which indicated his terrorist antecedents and covert drive to indoctrinate and recruit susceptible youths in the country.

On 17th January, 2016, in Daura township of Daura LGA, Katsina State, another budding extremist cell affiliated to ISIS, was intercepted by the Service. One Ibrahim Mohammed DAURA, Zaharadeen SALISU and five other elements of the proscribed extremist group, Ansaru, were arrested by the Service. This group was discovered in an active stage, as its members were already co-ordinating themselves for attacks in Katsina and Kano States.

Within the window of these tactical operations, between the month of December 2015 and February 2016, the Service, busted the network of syndicated kidnap gangs spanning different regions in the country, especially Kebbi, Zamfara, Niger, Nasarawa, FCT, Oyo and Osun States. Foremost in this line, was the arrest of a gang of five (5) kidnappers, Abubakar HASSAN, Usman MUSA, Usman ADAMU and Idrisa Babangida AHMADU at Ife junction, Osun State, on 3rd February, 2016.

On 5th February, 2016, the fifth member of the gang, Saidu ISYAKU was arrested at Ojo area, Oyo State. These kidnappers, Six (6) AK 47 rifles, five (5) magazines and about one thousand rounds of ammunition were recovered. This gang has been active in the South West axis of the country and were at advanced stages of kidnapping high value targets for huge ransom, before they were intercepted.

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Page last modified: 14-02-2016 20:09:06 ZULU